My three cousins in Canada all have starkly different tastes when it comes to food. One loves his fast-food (burgers, pizzas, all-you-can-eat – the faster and tastier, the better!) The second loves discovering unique restaurants, local joints and trying out new cuisines, just like I do. And the third, a perfectionist by nature, has an appreciation for fine food and gastronomic experiences.
I couldn’t be any luckier – for that meant getting a tiny glimpse into the entire food scene in Toronto. I’ll share the restaurants I tried with you in a later post, but this one is about my fabulous Christmas gift from Cousin #3 – a night out with her at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge to experience an 11 course tasting menu!
Before I get into the food, let me tell you something about Langdon Hall. This isn’t the kind of place you go to every weekend – it’s one of those where you hope a reeeeally special occasion comes around just so you can celebrate there. The food is refined, beautifully crafted and presented – meant to be savoured, not just eaten.
Having being awarded the prestigious 5 Diamond Award by the AAA, you can expect leading cuisine prepared using the finest ingredients. The dishes are prepared by an acclaimed chef (Jason Bangerter), served by gracious service staff, led by maitre d’ in extraordinary surroundings. Yep, this is serious business, and in fact, Langdon Hall is among the Top 50 restaurants in Ontario.
I happened to visit one snowy night and couldn’t appreciate the architecture from the outside, however the interiors are plush, mid-century modern and palatial.
The tasting menu at Langdon Hall is a seasonally evolving affair, reflecting the inventiveness of its chefs with a slight inclination to the fads + fetishes of the foodie revolution. Every course is bite sized, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve recently shared why fine dining restaurants like these serve tiny portions. Have you seen it yet?
At Langdon Hall, the devil is in the details! Pristine white table cloths, candles lit on every table even ones on which no guests are seated, butter sprinkled with salt, and staff who appear and disappear as if by telepathy, carrying food, wine.
The first course was made of sunflower root, stuffed with a velvety truffle puree, coated over with sunflower seeds, fried and served on a bark of wood. It was so delicately crunchy, giving way to a rich, creamy filling! This curious little dish blew me away, straight off the bat! Another stellar dish followed, served in four tiny pieces of crockery. A deviled egg on a deliciously savory beetroot puree served in a cup holder shaped like a duck’s foot, brioche, crème fraiche and Canadian caviar. Together, they made a rich, creamy, decadent, sour and somehow great combination!
Brassica, a vegetable akin to cauliflower and broccoli, was spooned over with fermented chilli sauce, coriander and Ontario peanuts. Again, a one bite dish that was gone before I knew it!
Scallop, poached just enough to leave the taste of the sea intact, served with celery root juice, apple pearls and sorrel for a texture that was almost cucumber-like. The choice of the clear glass dish made it look even more vibrant.
Then came sweetbread and lobster served with brown butter, cinnamon and a creamy golden nugget squash dressing. Another feast for the senses thanks to the glimmering silver dish and colourful components that complimented each other perfectly.
The Autumn Truffle Puree was high on my list of favourites. I couldn’t get enough of this buttery soup that was so silky, it’s hard to put into words! Camel-hued with a spoonful of hen veloute foam on top, the quantity was such that it was gone in seconds. I could easily drink two litres of it!
Venison with the right amount of gaminess came next with braised red cabbage, rutabaga fondant and fermented wild berry that was a bit too tart for my liking. See that leaf there on the plate? You could crack it like a chip, it was that crispy!
Finally, dessert service started with an airy gin meringue with frozen juniper and spruce followed by the second dessert, Terroir Noir with 70% dark chocolate, mulled cranberry and the absurd but wonderful element of crispy chicken skin, which added a delicious saltiness to the dessert, much like sea salt would.
My cousin raves about how every meal here is better than the last and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to visit. An unforgettable experience, for sure! If you enjoy great food, good wine and have a special occasion to celebrate, you’ll have a remarkable experience at Langdon Hall from start to finish.
Where have you had your fanciest meal? Comment below, I’d love to know!